Biden’s failure and Klobuchar’s comeback changes everything - GulfToday

Biden’s failure and Klobuchar’s comeback changes everything


Joe Biden

Holly Baxter, The Independent

A little bit of knowledge is supposed to be a dangerous thing, and everyone with a little bit of knowledge of the Democratic presidential nomination said Joe Biden was going to win. He was going to walk it, they’d tell you, because he was the only sensible choice. His experience as vice president alongside Barack Obama meant he knew the ropes; his age implied wisdom, experience and a steady hand. His moderate views would win over Republicans and keep less radical Democrats onboard, while those who would have preferred Bernie or Elizabeth Warren would still go “blue no matter who”.

And Donald Trump was clearly afraid of what his candidacy would mean — why else would he go after Biden’s son Hunter, and why else would other members of the Trump family stir up conspiracies online about Bernie Sanders being pushed out by the bigwigs at the DNC? “Because Trump knows I’ll beat him like a drum,” the elder Biden is fond of saying, and for a brief moment in history we all believed it.

Then Iowa happened. Even as the disastrous results unfolded — agonisingly slowly — it was clear that Biden had underperformed. It was Sanders and Buttigieg who delayed their speeches as long as they could, hoping for official results to come through so they could declare victory. Biden limped in fourth in the end, with less than three percentage points separating him from outside-chance candidate Amy Klobuchar.

Going into New Hampshire, Klobuchar was emboldened — and Biden was injured, indisputably. The injury has only been worsened with this less-than-underwhelming performance in New Hampshire. He left the state before full results were even in and, according to some reports, cancelled a planned victory party for supporters.

Bernie Sanders was expected to win big in the state that borders Vermont, but his victory is not the big story. Biden has failed to convince voters that he is the safe bet after all. Even when behind a curtain, voting in private rather than moving in raucous packs during a caucus, voters clearly don’t think he fits the remit. Preliminary exit polls in New Hampshire showed that people were primarily voting on healthcare and electability; if it were only healthcare, Biden’s team could perhaps have explained it away with Sanders’ “pie-in-the-sky” Medicare for All offering, but as it is their ideal narrative clearly doesn’t fit. People have seen Biden flounder on a few debate stages now. They are wondering if he really has the requisite energy to give Donald Trump hell.

Klobuchar, who we once expected would drop out after this primary, is experiencing a resurgence in interest from voters. Older voters especially chose her over Biden, according to some later exit poll results. She is more politically experienced than Buttigieg and has styled herself as a unifier.

Though she has been accused, like most successful women in politics, of being “not likeable”, she has smiled on through it. “I know a little bit about resilience,” she said tonight, as she celebrated her unexpectedly strong numbers. Few could have predicted that she would outperform Elizabeth Warren in the first primary, but somehow she managed it; results suggest she performed especially well with women, while Sanders performed especially well with men.

It’s still possible that Biden could rally. With the results he’s had in Iowa and New Hampshire, however, it’s going to be an uphill struggle. When you stand on electability and you fail to come out top — or even second, or third — in two states at the beginning of the contest, you do inevitably come out looking a little foolish. “I can’t believe I lost to these people,” said Andrew Yang after pulling out the contest tonight. It’s especially hard to believe it was these people — Klobuchar and Sanders, rather than media darlings Biden and Warren. There’s still time for the tide to turn, but then again, perhaps it already has.

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